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Scottish, northern English, and German: from an Old English personal name composed of the elements os ‘god’ + weald ‘power’. In the Middle English period, this fell together with the less common Old Norse cognate Ásvaldr. The name was introduced to Germany from England, as a result of the fame of St. Oswald, a 7th-century king of Northumbria, whose deeds were reported by Celtic missionaries to southern Germany. The name was also borne by a 10th-century English saint of Danish parentage, who was important as a monastic reformer.